Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Jarbas Barbosa, says an approved coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine could be available for distribution and administration during the first half of 2021.
Speaking during PAHO’s COVID-19 digital briefing on Thursday, Dr Barbosa said this projection is based on the progress of Phase III clinical trials involving 10 vaccine candidates, and the anticipated timeline for the conclusion of engagements in this stage by the producers.
Stage three of the clinical trial process entails large-scale expansion of tests to thousands of volunteers, with some receiving placebos to analyse for safety, dosage and efficacy, as well as side effects in a larger population.
Dr Barbosa advised that concluding engagements for the 10 candidates are expected to span the remainder of 2020 into early 2021.
He noted, however, that other potential factors, such as the suspension of the vaccine’s administration during clinical trials due to safety concerns or to identify a larger number of volunteers could figure in the process and impact the targeted readiness timeline.
“Once Phase III trials come to an end, the results need to be presented to the World Health Organization (WHO), and a file has to be prepared to request registration. The expectation, however, is that we could have a vaccine available for use in the first half of 2021… [that is] our best estimate,” he added.